Do you come to your practice as a way to leave reality behind? Or do you approach it as a method to learn the tools that help you tackle reality?

Most of us start in the first category. We hear yoga is a way to relieve stress. It’s an hour to get away from work, family, responsibilities, arguments, etc. It’s an hour we can spend on ourselves solely, which is really what a lot of us need especially in holiday season.

But what happens when you take that next step, when you bring your reality onto your mat? Does your practice become distracted or does it allow you to dig in deeper?

Think to the last time you took savasana. Maybe it was restful. Maybe your mind was wandering, looking for something to land on.

When we use our mat as an escape rather than a space to work through whatever is going on in our lives, we push our emotions to the back of our minds, Then, when we give ourselves the space to rest—like in savasana—those emotions try to resurface and become distracting.

Our physical practice (asana) gives us opportunities to clear our minds by confronting what’s going on. This could be anything from a realization of an emotion to awareness of something you’ve been holding onto to remembering something funny or heavy or pressing from your past. It can come out of nowhere. It can come out of half pigeon.

Allow your asanas to help you clear your mind. Then, when it’s time for savasana, you’ll be ready for true rest. When you wake up, you’ll be truly clear and ready to take on the next challenge.

The next time you come to your mat, recognize how you’re approaching it. What are you running from? What are you standing up to today? What do you want to change?